DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to visit my mother a week ago, and I was shocked to see how much medication she is taking. I know she has some ailments, but I definitely think she is being overmedicated. I bet she had about 15 pills in her daily pill case. I watched her counting them all out and putting them in a weekly container. She seemed organized about it, but I can't imagine that this is good for her body. I asked her about all the pills, and she got defensive. I wasn't trying to upset her, but I am concerned. Do you think I should call her doctor to review her medicines? I live several hours away, so I am not there to monitor or support her, and no other family is, either. How can I help? -- Advocating From a Distance, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR ADVOCATING FROM A DISTANCE: First, you should know that many people, particularly older ones, do take a lot of medication. It is fairly common, depending upon what their ailments might be. That does not mean that you should take your mother's medications lightly. It is wise for you to check in with her and with her doctor regularly to ensure that she is being properly medicated and monitored.
The best-case scenario would be for you to accompany your mother on her next doctor's appointment. Ask her if you can go with her, and schedule yourself so that you can be in town that day. Ask the doctor all of the questions that you have. You may want to write them down in advance so that you don't forget anything. Also, ask if you can stay in touch to help support your mother's progress. Once you have established a rapport with the doctor and it is clear that you are her advocate, you will have a better chance of having the doctor respond to your inquiries.